Patience key the to Kyle Busch

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:35 PM ET

BRISTOL, Tenn. — There are a ton of words to describe Kyle Busch’s style of racing, but until Sunday, patience wasn’t one of them.

But it was his willingness to be conservative Sunday that more than anything else put the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in Victory Lane.

Right from the moment he first took the lead on Lap 83 of the Jeff Byrd 500, Busch finessed his way around Bristol’s half-mile banked oval without so much as touching another car.

And that, folks, is a very hard thing to do on short track with 43 stock cars all vying for position.

Prior to this season Busch certainly didn’t show any of that kind of maturity.

In fact, prior to his season the 25-year-old from Las Vegas threw away far more races than any other Cup driver because he could never resist trying to put his race car in a spot where it just wouldn’t go.

But on Sunday he was part of a three-car sprint over the final 25 laps that showcased that he now belongs in any conversation about who is the best stock car driver in the world.

He had a running battle with both five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and current Cup points leader Carl Edwards throughout the race and came out of it the winner.

It could be argued that Busch, Johnson and Edwards are 1-2-3 right now in terms of talent in NASCAR.

Even Johnson commented after the race how Busch has morphed from an out-of-control wild child into a responsible citizen this season.

“You can definitely see him bite his tongue at times (this season) and not say what is the first thought that comes through his mind,” Johnson said.

“Now that he is a car owner (in the Camping World Truck Series), and has sponsors to worry about, you can just tell in his interviews the way he speaks that he’s very aware of series sponsor, track sponsor, his sponsors. “Once you’re an owner, you understand how fragile this environment and sport is. It certainly matured him a lot.”

Busch laughed when asked directly about his growth this season.

“What do you mean I’m more mellow?” he said.

He did admit, however, that on Sunday when he was caught behind a soon-to-be lapped Marcos Ambrose he did not try to force the issue the way he might have in the past.

“I just had to be patient, bide my time with what I had,” Busch said. “I told these guys at one point during the

race, ‘There’s still time, got plenty of opportunities here to run these guys back down.’”

That was something the old Kyle Busch would never have contemplated.

FINISH LINES

A little bit of the Great White North was on display at Bristol when Dale Earnhardt Jr. picked Scream Bloody Murder by Canadian rock band Sum 41 of Ajax for his intro song prior to race.... Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton is nothing if not confident. He told London’s Observer newspaper this week that he thinks he will be the greatest race car driver of his generation when his career is done. “I want to be one of the most successful F-1 drivers of this generation so I do want to win more world championships and I think you have to continue winning and prove yourself time after time for people to really know that you are the best,” he said. ... After their surprise win at the Daytona 500, one would think that Wood Brothers Racing would have to beat sponsors off with a stick for charismatic 20-year-old Trevor Bayne in the No. 21 Ford, but that is not the case. The team doesn’t have a sponsor for upcoming Cup races at Richmond in late April, Dover in May or the Sprint All-Star Race. ... After three consecutive sell-outs at Daytona, Phoenix and Las Vegas, there were huge blocks of unsold seats at Bristol for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race.


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